But if you find yourself constantly tossing and turning at night, these foods aren’t the only ones to blame. Other foods you eat before bed can also disrupt your sleep, depending on how your body responds.
Many people don’t realize, for example, that eating a large meal right before bed can be hard to digest and cause heartburn and acid reflux. People with a chronic type of acid reflux, known as gastro-intestinal reflux, or GERD, may have more difficulty sleeping. Acid reflux occurs when the muscles at the bottom of the esophagus get stuck and allow food from the stomach to come back up, lie down after a heavy meal, as well as certain types of food, which are known to aggravate the condition.
The World Health Organization recommends that adults get at least seven hours of sleep each night for optimal health and well-being. And it’s not just about feeling tired and disoriented, because a chronic lack of sleep can lead to a host of chronic health problems, including high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, depression and diabetes.
Because sleep (or lack of sleep) affects your health and happiness, it’s worth exploring if your diet is interfering with your sleep. While everyone’s body (and digestive system) is different, and the foods that affect your sleep may not make a difference for another person, the following foods are the most common culprit when you sleep, disrupting sleep. Pay attention to what you eat before bed and see if certain foods prevent you from sleeping the way you want to.
1 Pizza & Over-processed Dishes
If you feel physically uncomfortable after eating overly processed junk food, it will definitely not help you sleep. Pizza has a double effect, it is high in saturated fat and sodium. Foods high in saturated fats should be avoided in the evening, such as butter, ice cream, and fried foods such as French fries. In fact, a small study of 26 normal-weight adults who typically sleep between seven and nine hours a night found that higher amounts of saturated fat ingested during the day resulted in lighter, “less rest” sleep. A slice of cheese pizza contains approximately 5 grams of saturated fat. Plus, many ultra-processed foods are also salty, which can make you wake up during the night looking for something to drink. Just one slice of pepperoni pizza can provide up to a third of the sodium you need in a day.
2 Smoothies and very sweet desserts
We already know that excessive consumption of sugar is linked to health problems like diabetes, weight gain, high blood pressure and fatty liver disease, to name a few. It can also make sleeping more difficult. You may know how to avoid sweets, cakes, pies, sweets, and soda before bed, but do smoothies seem like a healthy snack to you? Research published in BMJ Open in March 2016 looked at drinks marketed to children in the UK and found that packaged juice products, on average, contain more sugar per serving (about two and a half tablespoons) than juices. About 40% of the products tested contained approximately 4 teaspoons of sugar. Sugar plays a role in many of our health issues, so it’s no surprise to see it on the list of foods to avoid at bedtime. For some people, sweets provide an energy boost that may prompt them to count sheep instead of sawing wood. In addition, refined sugars can cause rapid fluctuations in blood glucose levels, which can cause an adrenaline rush and make it difficult to fall asleep.
If you are hungry before bed, it is best to eat a complex carbohydrate or protein, such as whole wheat bread or a banana with Greek yogurt. It is best to finish the meal with a banana before going to bed. They have high levels of potassium, magnesium and fiber. All of these nutrients have been found to help encourage healthy sleep.
It’s a cruel irony that the more delicious cheese, the worse it can be in terms of affecting sleep. Although cheese protein provides tryptophan, an amino acid that research has shown can promote relaxation and sleep, not all cheese is sleep-inducing. Strong or aged cheeses, such as Cheddar, Gruyere, and Parmesan, contain high amounts of tyramine, an amino acid that increases heart rate.
Even the humble tomato, despite its many health benefits, can be bad for your sleep if eaten too close to bedtime. Acidic foods can irritate the stomach lining and raise acidic pH levels in the body, leading to indigestion, stomach acidity, and acid reflux, all of which can interfere with sleep. Despite being high in vitamin C, iron, and lycopene, tomatoes (including tomato-based foods like juices and sauces) are very acidic and should be avoided if you’re prone to heartburn. Avoid anything that contains tomatoes: sauces, juices, and pizza, as mentioned.
5 hot sauce
Acid reflux is most likely to occur during sleep, when we are lying down, at which time the combination of stomach acid and food digestion can reflux into the esophagus. Many people find that eating spicy foods can cause this effect during the day, not to mention at bedtime, when the negative effect can be multiplied. If you eat spicy foods for dinner, wait three hours before going to bed to avoid exacerbating any potential acid reflux that may result from lying down. This allows digestion to occur and the contents of your stomach to pass into your small intestine. This can prevent problems such as acidity at night and even insomnia. The same goes for spicy foods. A small study found that foods containing capsaicin, a compound responsible for the spice’s heat, can interfere with sleep by raising body temperature.
Despite the hydration benefits, few things are as frustrating as nature’s calling the moment you start falling asleep. This scenario is not uncommon if you tend to drink a lot of water right before bed, and it also increases the likelihood of disturbed sleep. Be aware that some natural diuretics also disrupt sleep. These are parsley, ginger, dandelion, hawthorn and juniper. Prescription diuretics should be taken early in the day.
Although many of us may experience fatigue, listlessness, and irritability due to mild dehydration, the time to replenish fluids is not before bedtime. Excessive drinking can keep you up at night due to the need to urinate a lot, hampering your rest.
A sip of alcohol before bed may help you fall asleep faster, but it interferes with the quality of your sleep by reducing REM sleep and causing disruptions. Excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to sleep apnea and severe snoring. Alcohol disrupts breathing during sleep by relaxing the throat muscles. Alcohol can also reduce the brain’s ability to wake up and detect a lack of oxygen in the body, which can lead to longer and more frequent pauses in breathing. According to the findings, alcohol helps healthy people fall asleep faster and sleep healthier for a while, but reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. And the more you drank before bed, the more pronounced these effects were.
* Presse Santé strives to impart medical knowledge in a language accessible to all. In no way can the information provided replace medical advice.
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